Sunday, February 3, 2013

Reminiscing on Favorite Comic Strips

Doug:  A few months ago we ran a couple of "Discuss" posts on Calvin & Hobbes and on The Far Side.  At the time, david_b commented to me that I'd recall the "Green Sheet" from the pages of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel -- I lived in Milwaukee from the summer of 1972 to the spring of 1976.  I did indeed recall that, and reflected at the time on some of the comic strips I followed way back when.  I thought at the time that we need to run a more general post on newspaper comic strips -- here it is.

Doug:  A couple of strips I followed when I was a kid were Alley Oop, about a bunch of cavemen and -women (forgive me, as I can't recall the larger premise of the strip), the Born Loser, and Hagar the Horrible.  Over the succeeding years I dabbled from time-to-time in the Spidey strip, Hi & Lois, the Family Circle, Ziggy, Mr. Boffo, of course Peanuts, Shoe, Blondie, and many, many others.  I always wanted to get into the Phantom and Prince Valiant, but with both being serialized it was difficult for me to do.

Doug:  So what are some favorite strips for our readers?  Are there some that even to this day you follow?  Do you have any web-based strips that you'd recommend, or perhaps websites that are repositories of old strips?  Thanks for playing along!


Disneymarvel said...

Sheesh! So many to choose from! I read at least 40 comic strips today, but of the ones from my childhood in the '60s and '70s, I'd have to say that I loved "Captain Easy & Wash Tubbs," "Frank & Ernest" and many of the ones you mentioned, like "Peanuts" and "The Born Loser." Later in the '70s came "For Better or For Worse" which I read to its conclusion just a few years ago. Still enjoy reading the reruns, which Lynn Johnston updates to keep with the times. Looking forward to the discussion on this subject! Thanks!

Fred W. Hill said...

I'm sure there are several old favorites that I've all but forgotten by now, but a few oldies that spring to mind are the one panal gag cartoon, Grin & Bear It; Frank & Ernest; Mother Goose & Grimm; and Shoe. My Holy Trinity for the '80s until they all dropped out, however, was Calvin & Hobbes; The Far Side; & Bloom County. On the latter, despite the often topical humor, which I know many people dislike, there was enough whimsy and clever storytelling that I still enjoy going back through the collections every so often.

Fred W. Hill said...

Oh, yeah, can't forget those two the other great strips Disney brings up, mainly Peanuts and For Better or For Worse.

humanbelly said...

Oh, great, great, GREAT topic! What's kind of neat is that I definitely remember how my personal favorites starting in early childhood shifted as I aged and as the strips themselves evolved (or devolved) over time. As a very little kid, PEANUTS, FAMILY CIRCUS, and DENNIS THE MENACE were my lock-on favorites. PEANUTS stayed a sentimental high-place-holder until its end, even though its quality declined markedly in later years. B.C. and WIZARD OF ID then took the top spot for several years until Johnny Hart sort of lost his ability to sustain the characters distinct personalities, and the humor became sort of easy-gag-laden, and he took on an extremely alarming deeply fundamentalist religious tone (an odd fit for cave men, one might point out)-- but that strip (BC) had some of the best physical comedy sequences I've ever seen in its day.

Became a huge DOONESBURY fan in high school, and never stopped loving it. It's where both Gerald Ford and I were able to get an understanding of our nation's political landscape.

And ultimately that rash of great strips from the 70's & 80's, of course, that all retired rather than lose their way: FAR SIDE, BLOOM COUNTY, CALVIN & HOBBES, FOR BETTER OR WORSE. OUTLAND and the later OPUS really didn't live up the Breathed's earlier glory at all, I'm afraid.

More recently (and enjoyably shared w/ HBGirl): SHERMAN'S LAGOON, GET FUZZY, ZITS, and the sadly semi-retired FOXX-TROT.

One strip that I've admired 'cause it's just hung in there and managed to keep growing since the Coolidge (or was it Hoover?) administration is BLONDIE. While not my favorite, it does still amuse me.

And, man, I've just in the last year become a HUGE fan of PRINCE VALIANT. Thought it was dull as dry toast when I was a kid (and it was dropped eventually from my local paper), but now I can't put these new collections down. And the current strip has recently taken on a new artist who is doing a nice, credible job-- although no one, of course, can ever hope to measure up to the incomparable Hal Foster.

There are many others, of course-- but that's a-plenty for discussion, eh?


Redartz said...

Count me among the "Peanuts" devotees. Loved the strip from an early age, which was frustrating as our local paper didn't carry the strip. I made it a habit to haunt the nearby drug store to pick up the paperback collections as they came out.

In the early 70's, a friend turned me on to Walt Kelly's "Pogo"; which led to another round of paperback collection purchases. Kelly's wit was very refreshing at the time. Loaded with cultural and policical satire; but the appeal of the strip (for me, anyway) was the quirky characters of the swamp. Albert the Alligator, Churcy la Femme, and of course P.T. Bridgeport ( the bear who spoke in circus-poster style lettering!). This strip would be ideal for re-issue today.

More recently, stips like Bloom County, Zits and Luann have been frequent reads. Topping them all, of course, Calvin and Hobbes. Sure do miss that strip...

Anonymous said...

As a kid I read pretty much everything that was in the paper at that time: Peanuts, Blondie, Hagar, Hi & Lois, B.C., Wizard of Id, Andy Capp. Later on they added Garfield, Family Circus, Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes. I never liked For Better or Worse...I just couldn't get into it.

There were quite a few strips that never appeared in our local paper (the Regina Leader Post, which doesn't have a Sunday edition, so the colour comics always appear on Saturdays). I never saw any of the superhero strips (Spider-Man, Superman, etc.) and some strips that I ended up liking, I didn't discover until years later (like Liberty Meadows).

Mike W.

humanbelly said...

Cripes-- BABY BLUES! How did I miss that one? Amazingly well-timed with the beginnings of our own child-rearing phase--!


Edo Bosnar said...

As I mentioned in one of those previous posts, Calvin & Hobbes, the Far Side and Jerry Van Amerongen's the Neighborhood and then Ballard Street are probably my very favorite newspaper strips. Another great one-panel strip is that I forgot to mention then was Bizarro.
But I there are many others that I really like: my older brother turned me on to Doonesbury when I was still in elementary school, and I also loved Bloom County. I liked Garfield when I was a kid, but it kind of lost its luster after a while. Others I really liked are at one time or another Herman, Robotman and the Fusco Brothers.
There's too many web-comics to mention, and I often go weeks without checking up on my favorites, but a few I really like and read pretty regularly are Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (, XKCD ( and one that comic fans might appreciate, the Non-Adventures of Wonderella ( - fair warning for that latter one: the language is often NSFW.

Ray Tomczak said...

Well, there appears to be a consensus agreement on Peanuts, Doonesbury and Bloom County, which remain favorites of mine to this day.
Some others that I enjoyed as a kid were Dick Tracy, especially during the too-short Max Collins/Rick Fletcher era; T.K. Ryan's Tumbleweeds, which I hadn't read for years until I found a few old paperbacks at Half-Price Books, and Andy Capp.
I used to like Funky Winkerbean, back when it was a humor strip--before it became a daily dose of depression and Batiuk forgot how to write a joke.
Some current strips I enjoy are Get Fuzzy and Agnes. Dick Tracy has recently become worth reading again after Mike Curtis and Joe Staton took the reins a couple of years ago.

William said...

If we're talking about comic strips of years past, I enjoyed the same one's as most people here-- "Bloom County", "Peanuts", "Garfield", "Foxtrot" and my all time favorite "The Far Side".

When I was a kid I used to enjoy a strip called "Inside Woody Allen". I didn't even know who Woody Allen really was at the time. I thought he was just a comic strip character. lol

These days I really like "Brewster Rockit: Space Guy", "Pearls Before Swine", "Sherman's Lagoon", "Get Fuzzy", "Dilbert", and "The Flying McCoys". There are a couple of more that I don't get in my local paper, but that I read online. They are "F-Minus" and "Cow and Boy".

I created a comic strip myself, when I was in art school, called "Animal Hospital". It's about a veterinarian and the whacky clients and animals he must deal with from day to day. I shopped it around a little and actually had some people interested, but nothing concrete ever came of it. Then I got too busy with "real work" to keep pursuing it. So I put it on the back burner. I recently thought about taking it up again, but with seemingly inevitable demise of the printed newspaper industry, I couldn't think of a worse time to try to sell a new comic strip.

Matt Celis said...

The Fusco Brothers and Overboard!

Rip Jagger said...

When it comes to comic strips, I really feel lucky to have lived where I did. Living in a relatively remote part of Eastern Kentucky my family got the Ashland Daily Independent, a paper with a robust comic strip section when I was a boy and still the best I've seen in this state or elsewhere.

There were continuity strips like Phantom, Lone Ranger, Tim Tyler's Luck, Steve Canyon, Buz Sawyer, Prince Valiant and more. There were vintage humor like Blondie, Henry, Beetle Bailey, Snuffy Smith and more. Pages and pages each Sunday to enjoy.

I clipped the Phantoms, my fave, and made comic books out of them. It was the best of times when it came to comics.

But the one strip which I was just thinking about this morning, even before I came to this thread today was Bud Blake's Tiger. I loved his artwork which was deceptively simple, and the characters were vivid and interesting. Tiger was a great strip.

The comic strips of the 80's like Doonesbury, Bloom County, and Calvin and Hobbes were hilarious. Great stuff.

But it was the somewhat less topical material like Tiger which really makes me laugh.

Rip Off

Anonymous said...

Too many to list them all, as my tastes were pretty eclectic. Beetle Bailey, Blondie, Wizard of Id, Dennis the Menace, and the Family Circus. My late grandparents subscribed to a different newspaper, and saved the comics section for me so I could follow Dick Tracy, the Phantom, Peanuts, and B.C. And I, too, clipped the Phantom daily strips and made albums or makeshift comic books with them. Small world.

WardhIll Terry said...

'Twas the funnies that taught me to read! Well, seeing Bugs Bunny in a comic strip motivated me to accelerate my learning how to read. My local paper carried this strip, which had very little to do with the cartoons. (It often featured Sylvester as a cockney hobo. What the--?) To this day I start my mornings with reading the comics pages. When I was a boy, it was alway a treat to visit someone on Sunday who got a different paper than we did. All those different funnies! One of my favorite Christmas presents was a large box, for all three of us kids. Inside my Mom had put a dozen or so paperback collections of comic strips. B.C., Wizard of Id, Andy Capp, Peanuts...we couldn't get enough. Do any of you follow The Comics Curmudgeon site? The comments are usually much funnier than the strips!

Anonymous said...

Edo, you and I have similar taste in webcomics...I also read SMBC, xkcd, and Wonderella religiously... as well as Subnormality, Questionable Content, and Something Positive.

Mike W.

david_b said...

Huge fan of Dick Tracy as a kid, as well as Peanuts and a few others. Highschool's when Funky Winkerbean started.

College in 80s..? Easily Calvin and Bloom, later Outland.. I've still got plenty of GreenSheet daily Spidey clippings, Doug, as well as his Sunday colored strips.

Matt Celis said...

I was just yesterday talking about that drunken, wife-beating layabout Andy they still publish him anywhere?

humanbelly said...

@ Ray-- I didn't know Dick Tracy was still being produced, even. But Joe Staton as its illustrator is a brilliantly inspired choice! One can imagine a terrific synthesis between his own normal stylization and the "traditional" off-beat look that strip used to have.

Our paper is the Washington Post which, once upon a time, had THREE full pages of daily comics. As the print media dies, though, they've drastically shrunk the size even further, cut some things, and now run only two. They still very often try to do some cutting/adding/replacing which never fails to cause unimaginable emotional anguish. At times they've cut Spider-Man, Mark Trail, and Zippy the Pinhead-- and the reader backlash was such that all were reinstated. Zippy has since been cut again permanently (which I personally am just fine with). A strip I've always enjoyed that was recently discarded for good was Tank McNamera, and it was replaced with an absolutely dreadful computer sketch-pad drawn strip called NO REPLY.

HBGirl has become an astonishing BLOOM COUNTY fan, which is very, very neat. She's forever coming in to ask about a lot of the 80's pop & political references. . . but it's actually made her more aware of the events that took place in that decade.

Golly, only a couple of mentions for SHERMAN'S LAGOON? I daresay it's my favorite strip these days. It's a delightfully goofy one with a great cast of characters. . . and it completely- COMPLETELY- camoflages the black comedy that exists at its very core. The central character and his wife are sharks. . . and routinely eat any non-central characters (fish) or people who might wander into the strip. Often, full conversations are had with creatures who have been eaten by the last panel--- and somehow the tone manages to avoid anything remotely dark, which is hilarious in itself.

PS-- We've given up on the SuperBowl tonight. Unknown power outage at 22 to 8 portends a night not worth staying up late into. . .


Redartz said...

HB- Sherman's Lagoon, eh? Have to look that up. Not one I'm familiar with, but always looking for a good strip to follow! Oh, and don't give up on the game yet; 49rs are making a contest of it...

Redartz said...

How could I forget? As a dog lover, I must put in a word for Patrick McDonnell's "Mutts". A little strip with big heart.

Garett said...

I enjoyed many of the strips mentioned here as a kid. Now the one I like is Bizarro for its great art and oddball humour. Also I purchased a bunch of old Tumbleweeds paperbacks, and loved them all!

For adventure strips, Flash Gordon and Prince Valiant for the super art and continuing stories by the original creators. I also picked up Burne Hogarth's Tarzan, and while the stories didn't grip me, the art is great.

Edo Bosnar said...

Mike W., thanks for the tips on the webcomics - already know about Subnormality, although I don't read it regularly. Anyway, another one I remembered is Kate Beaton's 'Hark, A Vagrant' ( - if you haven't already seen it, I think you'll like it.

Dougie said...

As a kid in the early 70s, the Daily Express strips James Bond and Jeff Hawke were naughty, grown-up comics.

Bond was dark and sexy and Hawke was a sardonic sci-fi strip: a bit like a Scottish version of Barbarella- exotic but drily witty. Also a big influence on Alan Davis.

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